UPDATE: According to the Courier Journal, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association admitted its initial press release was "poorly worded" and offered clarification of its stance on postgame handshakes.
Instead of banning the gesture outright, the KHSAA wishes to monitor handshakes to ensure no fights begin as a result of the act. Schools will be fined if any conflict arises as a result of the postgame handshake.
Kids these days.
The postgame handshake, from Little League to the NHL playoffs, has long been perhaps the greatest symbol of sportsmanship in this country. But because a bunch of teenagers can’t control themselves, an entire state is considering banning it from most high school competitions.
So what are we talking about?
The Kentucky High School Athletic Association, the governing body for all high school sports throughout the state, on Tuesday ordered all high schools to no longer conduct postgame handshakes due to an increase in violence in these postgame events — "more than two dozen [incidents] in the last three years in Kentucky alone" according to the KHSAA.
In a "Commissioner’s Directive" posted on its website, the KHSAA referred to the handshakes as "traditions" and said that "fights and physical conflicts have broken out" to the point that, "in our state alone, incidents in soccer, football and volleyball have occurred this fall."
The post went on to put more of the blame on the adults than on the players ("And this can be particularly problematic when there is a lack of an appropriate level of adult supervision, or counterproductive actions by the adults involved with the team."). So after a board meeting, the KHSAA banned postgame handshakes in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling — but with a catch.
While the KHSAA is announcing the ban, it is not administering its enforcement at the time the games end. Rather, opposing teams can still choose to have postgame handshakes but if a fight breaks out, it’s not on the KHSAA; it’s on the coaches and the officials, if they choose to stay. In fact, the statement posted in the largest, boldest font is this one:
"Henceforth, any incidents by an individual squad member (including coaches) or group of squad members that results in unsporting acts immediately following the contest will result in a fine against the member school athletic program, and additional penalties against the individuals or schools as deemed appropriate following investigation."
Kentucky.com spoke with KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett, who said the order was "much ado about nothing," but added, "You’re on notice, if you’re going to do this, you’re going to be accountable."
The site also reported that the language in the directive was softened from an earlier version, citing criticism on social media. One high school coach told the site that he had already been told by his principal not to take part in postgame handshakes. "I think it’s sad, but I understand," Mason County football coach David Buchanan said.
But is this act truly "much ado about nothing," as Tackett said, or does Kentucky have a real problem on its hands?
Well, along with the KHSAA’s claim than more than two dozen fights have broken out after games, it appears physical violence isn’t limited to the players. Check out fans at this 2012 Kentucky hoops game.